Student-run food drive raises donations for the Ames community


Hindu YUVA

Students from Hindu YUVA held a food drive called Sewa Diwali during November.

To celebrate the holiday season, the student organization Hindu YUVA put together a food drive this month, raising 441 pounds of food and 120 pounds of essential household supplies and hygiene products.

The annual food drive, SewaDiwali, originated out of a need to spread the spirit of Diwali, a Hindu holiday, by promoting selfless giving, or sewa.

“We were happy and overwhelmed by the donations made this year, which surpassed any donations made during previous years,” Kaushiki Singh, a graduate student in the economics department, said.

When searching for a place to raise donations for, the organization began by looking for places within Ames to give back to the community.

“We found IMPACTCAP online, and their mission resonated with one of our Hindu values, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbukam,’ as in the ‘world is one family,’” said Rakesh Maddineni, a member of Hindu YUVA. “Then, we reached out to the organization, and they agreed to be part of our food drive.”

A problem the organization ran into while collecting donations was finding locations on campus to collect donations. Eventually, the organization had a total of five drop-off locations, two of which were on campus.

“We were initially looking to place drop-off boxes at busy locations on campus, but we were only able to put them at some of the residence halls on campus,” Maddineni said.

The organization hopes to expand the locations on campus to collect donations for the food drive in the following year. Another improvement the organization hopes to accomplish is reaching out to more people within and outside of the Ames community.

“We would like to reach out to more people including the Ames community at large for donations and, if possible, try to get donations from people around Ames such as Boone, Ankeny and Des Moines,” Singh said. “We also have a temple nearby in Madrid, and we would like to involve the temple.”

The students at the organization also hope to collaborate with other student organizations on campus for the next annual SewaDiwali food drive, according to Dhruv Gamdha, a graduate student in the mechanical engineering department.

“Diwali is a very auspicious and joyful time for us Hindus, and being able to spread that happiness with other people is a blissful experience for us,” Gamdha said.